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Visual and Acoustic Display in Uca Mordax and U. Burgersi, Sibling Species of Neotropical Fiddler Crabs. I. Waving Display

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The fiddler crabs Uca mordax and U. burgersi, living sympatrically from Guatemala to southern Brazil, were until recently discussed as belonging to only one species, because their similarities refer not only to morphology but also to their waving displays, which were called "indistinguishable". A frame-by-frame analysis of motion pictures taken in Trinidad (W.I.) confirmed the presence of many similarities in respect to the special "jerking" type of waving display, the mean duration of routine waves, the effect of increasing excitation, the pattern of leg-waving and the presence of a "precursory" downstroke" of the major cheliped. However, a closer analysis of certain components or elements of the display yielded various interspecific differences. In burgersi there is the tendency to omit the precursory downstroke and to extend all motion components at the cost of all kinds of pauses, while in mordax the contrary is true. Furthermore, the movements of the minor cheliped show a different pattern in the two species. The differences found are discussed in respect to differences in the allometry of the major cheliped and from an evolutionary point of view. It is concluded that the waving display of mordax represents the more ancestral type. The role of the waving display as a possible means of reproductive isolation will be discussed in part II of this study dealing with the acoustic display.

Affiliations: 1: (Fachbereich Biologie, Zoologie, Philipps-Universität, Marburg/Lahn, B.R.D.


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